Have Christians substituted a worldly religion in place of the purity of God's Word? That's the warning the apostle Paul sounded when he wrote to the church in Corinth:
I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:2-4)
Paul lays out the marks of genuine believers: faith, hope, and love.
When Paul speaks of a "sincere and pure devotion to Christ," the idea behind "sincere devotion" in the Greek is the word haplotēs, which literally means "singleness" and "simplicity." And it's important that Paul uses the image of marriage to suggest the relationship between God and His people. He tells us that if we receive a "different gospel," we are committing spiritual adultery.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is transparently clear—yet we have adulterated it with false ideologies and man-made doctrines. Some would have us believe that the good news of the Bible is "love wins"—that is, Jesus' sacrifice was unnecessary because God will ultimately let everyone into His Kingdom—but I believe that is the kind of "different gospel" Paul warned us against. The clear, pure, unadulterated Gospel that we find in the Bible is simply this: Jesus died, Jesus arose, Jesus is alive, and Jesus saves. These are not only Truths that we must be willing to defend—even die for—they are expressions of God's love toward us that should move us to love and care for everyone around us.
In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul lays out the marks of genuine believers: faith, hope, and love. Note that these traits cause us to look outward, not inward; to be active, not passive; and to remain visible, not hidden. Our faith is anchored in the saving work of Christ in the past, and our hope enables us to look to the future as we wait for Christ's return. Love, however, is capable of disarming those who oppose us now as we serve and forgive them—a reflection of the grace and forgiveness God first extended to us.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for giving me a new heart to receive Your Truth. Help me to be singly devoted to You for Your glory and to bless the people You have put into my life with Your hope and love. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will go well for them and for their children after them" (Jeremiah 32:38-39).
*This devotional adapted from The Hidden Enemy by Michael Youssef © 2018. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, IL. Used by permission.